July 19-25, 2008
I gave some pretty harsh reviews this week because I'm tiring of watching movies that need a more scrupulous editor. I sound like one of my professors: STRUCTURE!!! But it's true. Geez. If that scene doesn't advance your plot, get rid of it!! As we say in the biz, kill that baby! Your scenes are your babies. Kill them!!
393. Prom in Mississippi. HBO documentary about the town, Charleston, where Morgan Freeman lives, which has a segregated prom. He's offered to pay for the prom if it's integrated for the first time. I wish we could get some more tripods used in this film because there were a lot of shaky shots in the open. It improved quickly though. I adore the kids in this film. Really well-told story. A large number are fighting to ignore the generational teachings to segregate socially though they go to school together. I really liked this film. 4.7/5 stars.
394. Mamma Mia. Cute musical about a girl (my "Mean Girl" Karen) who invites the three men who could be her father to her wedding to meet them for the first time... without telling her mother (Meryl Streep). Y'all know I love Meryl. If you like musicals, you'll like this movie. And it has enough plot twists to entertain a lot of people who don't like musicals, too. 4.5 stars
395. Bee Movie. Hmm. Jerry Seinfeld & Renee Zellweger (who I never seem to like in films) in the animated film about a bee who makes friends with a human, then decides to sue them over honey. It was vaguely amusing, then boringly silly, then ridiculous. It dragged. I can see why it didn't do well in the box office. All that plus the crazy hype (remember that? very annoying) and oh well. 3 stars.
396. Phoebe in Wonderland. Elle Fanning is amazing in this fantasy film about a little girl who always seems to be breaking the rules. When her drama teacher casts her in "Alice and Wonderland" the characters begin to give her advice. Felicity Huffman plays her mother. Strangely serious in a way I didn't expect early in the film but still an interesting film that certainly kept my attention.
397. Dead Poets Society. Robin Williams plays an English teacher at a prep school who inspires his students to poetry in unconventional ways. Excruciatingly long with a plot you could predict from a mile away. 2 stars.
398. Benny and Joon. Johnny Depp is the weird (shocker) housekeeper a mentally ill girl falls in love with to the chagrin of her caretaker brother. The plot took overly long to develop but Depp was captivating as usual. I don't understand why netflix termed this a romantic comedy. There were definitely funny parts but I think comedy is an overly strong description. 3.4 stars.
399. Body of War. Incredibly slanted documentary about an Iraq war veteran paralyzed after just 5 days there. Heavy usage of CSPAN and a 2002 speech by Bush. The veteran's story was very compelling but the methods used to flesh out the story line were too much. I'm against the war and still felt propagandized. Very slow pacing and overly-dramatized music. 2.4 stars.
400. Visioneers. Strange strange strange film about a descendant of George Washington who lives in a time when dreaming is discouraged and people who do so and who think too much explode. I was confused by what the film was supposed to be about at times. Very weird. 3 stars.
401. Ballerina. Documentary about Russian ballerinas. It pretty inadequately followed five from a prestigious theater. I liked some of the ballerinas but didn't really feel like I connected with any but one. The worst part was the narration-- the fact that it was repetitive, insultingly condescending and intrusive, and the delivery was irritating. I know that was a harsh review but 2.4/5 stars.
402. Better Off Dead. 80s teen movie about a kid (John Cusack) who thinks his life is over when his girlfriend dumps him for a more popular guy. His already overactive imagination goes into overdrive and then he meets the exchange student now living across the street. Funny ish and odd. Definitely not my fave of the 80s teen comedies. 3.3 stars.
403. On A Clear Day. British film about a man who loses his job and realizes he's old to be looking for a new job but still too young to officially retire. To keep himself busy he decides to swim the English Channel. I liked it though the beginning dragged to set up the story. 3.7 stars.
404. What a Way to Go! Shirley MacLaine is the widow who tells her analyst how she became a multimillionaire in a comedy with quite the cast: Dick Van Dyke, Paul Newman, Gene Kelly, what!? I loved it before it even started. Funny and silly. 4 stars.
405. I Love You, Alice B. Toklas. Peter Sellers movie about a lawyer who decides to give it all up and become a hippie to the chagrin of his fiancee and family. Very very strange and semi-plotless. 2.7 stars.
406. I Do: How to Get Married and Stay Single. A perfumier is happily single but his mother and sisters insist on him getting married. After a string of horrid blind dates he hires a woman to play his fiancee then dump him to get his family to abandon the idea forever. Though slightly predictable, this French romantic comedy takes some unexpected turns. I liked it a lot. 4.5 stars.
407. Family Law. Argentinean film about a father and son, both attorneys, and the young grandson and the son's relationship to both and his wife. I wanted the plot of the film to be more apparent. What it was about, etc. 3.2 stars.
408. Brief Encounter. Classic David Lean film about an illicit romance in Britain in 1945 between a housewife and a doctor. A bit melodramatic toward the end as old films tend to be but still pretty engaging. 3.5 stars.
409. Alice's House. Brazilian film which was more like an extended telenovella. Crazy winding plot and abrupt non-ending. Drama-filled does not necessarily translate into a good film. 2.3 stars.
410. The Lady From Shanghai. Classic Rita Hayworth & Orson Welles film where she plays the damsel in distress with a secret and he the reluctant savior. Intriguing to see where the lies would unravel. It also made me discovered Rita Hayworth. Can you imagine being that person? Wow. I loved the unexpected end. 4.2 stars.
411. Son of the Bride. This film took an incredibly long time to get to the crux. Argentinean film nominated for an Academy Award about a restauranteur whose father wants to remarry his mother, who has Alzheimer's and the turns their lives take in trying to make the marriage happen. Nice pay-off in the end. I would have preferred a quicker route. 3.4 stars
412. Bigger, Stronger, Faster. Documentary by a guy whose 2 brothers are both on steroids about the reasons why they take steroids and why he did at one point but felt too guilty to continue. The stereotypical narration of a personal documentary-- overly wordy, unprofessional, boring. He asked the same obvious questions ad nauseum for an hour and 45 minutes. I watched this film because this guy at the bus stop near my apartment told me it was the only doc he liked. He would because he's one of those guys who is either on roids or has thought about it. It's not that the film didn't appeal to me because I'm not either of those, but rather that it didn't seem to have a structure. I've really liked many films, docs included in which I had no interest in participating in the topic, but that's because they were engaging in their ability to advance a plot. This seemed not to have one rather to show every thought he's ever had about steroids and body image with some movies, baseball and "experts" mixed in. I was really amazed by the amount of video and images they used I KNOW they would have to pay serious money to clear. Even though he's not on them and says he's against them, still pretty slanted and way too long. 2 stars
413. I Was a Male War Bride. Cary Grant movie where he marries a female army lt. from the U.S. but he's a French Army man. They struggle to get him recognized as a war bride. Quite funny. 4.1 stars